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Hodgson Refuses to Call Out Kilmartin on RI Beach Contract Controversy

Saturday, August 02, 2014

 

Dawson Hodgson

Rhode Island State Senator and Republican candidate for Attorney General Dawson Hodgson has so far remained quiet regarding the Rhode Island State Police investigation into the state beach concession contract what was awarded to former state Democratic Party chairman David Caprio.

The state's Republican party -- and its two candidates for the state's highest office -- have decried the contract, which was originally awarded to State Representative Peter Palumbo before he withdrew his bid -- and then was hired by Caprio, as reported by WJAR-10. 

The RI GOP has issued statements demanding answers from David Caprio on his sudden resignation this week, and calling for Peter Palumbo to step down.

Cranston Mayor and Republican gubernatorial candidate Allan Fung demanded that Chafee rescind the beach concession contract and vowed to prohibit state officials from future bids and called for an ethics commission investigation. 

Opponent Ken Block called for an "end of political corruption in Rhode Island."

“The resignation by the Democratic Party Chairman is the most recent in a string of incidents that reflect poorly on our state,” said Block.  “Now we have yet another investigation added to the State Police takeover of Mayor Fung’s police department in Cranston, in addition to Gordon Fox being run out of office by the FBI and State Police.”

Hodgson, however, has not issued any formal statement to date, apart from a communication Friday afternoon to his e-mail list.

"I am trying to show restraint here," said Hodgson, who recently received one of the top legislative scores from Common Cause Rhode Island.  "Anyone who's asked me, I've said we need to deal with criminal investigation.  And if it's not a violation of the code of ethics, we need to enforce the ethics code to make it one. "

"No one's paying much attention right now," continued Hodgson, of the summer months.   Regarding his party's call for Rep. Palumbo to step down -- and whether he agreed -- Hodgson said, "I need more information.  It doesn't look good, but I reserve my criticism."

Ethics -- and Politics -- Questions

"I've struggled with this office that's not supposed to be political, and the notion of grandstanding.  People say that the biggest political thing I've done is run for statewide office," said Hodgson.  "I'm trying to conduct myself as an ethical candidate and particularly on what I say and how I communicate."

"The biggest criticism I'm getting from [Attorney General] Peter Kilmartin is him saying that I can "say anything I want," because I'm not in the position he's in, that he's restrained by the office and investigations on commenting on certain matters," said Hodgson.  "Quite frankly, I don't think that's true.   It takes an understanding of what's allowed and necessary in the position.    He can and should be saying more."

"I hope my ability to be above the fray, and apply a prosecutor's discipline to such matters as this, will resonate," said Hodgson.  "Grandstanding might be more applicable towards the end of September or October, if and when we see what comes of the investigation."

Hodgson continued, "This is Rhode Island.  You might be amazed that people might not see am inherent conflict of interest.  Peter Palumbo's working his ass off, he's not living high off the hog, but you can't fail to miss the glaring perception of conflict of interest.  If it's not a violation of the state code of ethics, it should be -- the ethics code must immediately changed."

Both the Office of the Attorney General and Common Cause cited regulation 36-14-5007 in the code of Ethics that specifically forbids members of the General Assembly to "seek or accept state employment" and later defines employment to include "services as an independent contractor". 

"We defer to the Ethics Commission to make the final determination and take action, if warranted," said Emily Martineau in the Office of the Attorney General. 

John Marion with Common Cause said it should be a violation.  "The plain language of that suggests Palumbo's bid violated the Code of Ethics," said Marion. 

Marion continued, "Interestingly, the same regulation has a one year revolving door provision that would not apply to Caprio because he left office in 2011. Further, the Ethics Commission in an advisory opinion to Representative Jared Nunes interpreted 5007 to mean that a state representative can serve as a subcontractor. 

"If that rule needs to be tightened, perhaps to include subcontracting, that could happen in one of two ways. Either the General Assembly could amend the Code of Ethics to include such a prohibition, or the Ethics Commission could adopt a regulation. Back in the early 1990s the Rhode Island Supreme Court opined that the Ethics Commission has concurrent legislative authority over the Code of Ethics with the General Assembly and may adopt substantive changes," added Marion.

"What I will talk about more on the stump isn't going to be just this instance, but it's when Kilmartin ran for AG -- he said he was going to be an "Inspector General" and make sure these things didn't happen," said Hodgson.  "He's not proactive, he's reactive.  We need someone to comb through these contracts and see who's getting this work, is there waste, fraud, abuse."

Editor's Note: The ethics code regulation has been corrected to 36-14-5007; a previous version had 36-14-5507.


 

 

Related Slideshow: Rhode Island’s History of Political Corruption

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Buddy Cianci

Vincent A. "Buddy" Cianci resigned as Providence Mayor in 1984 after pleading nolo contendere to charges of assaulting a Bristol man with a lit cigarette, ashtray, and fireplace log. Cianci believed the man to be involved in an affair with his wife. 

Cianci did not serve time in prison, but received a 5-year suspended sentence. He was replaced by Joseph R. Paolino, Jr. in a special election. 

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Joseph Bevilacqua

Joseph Bevilacqua was RI Speaker of the House from 1969 to 1975, and was appointed as Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court in 1976.  It was alleged that Bevilacqua had connections to organized crime throughout his political career.  

According to a 1989 article that appeared in The New York Times at the time of his death:

The series of events that finally brought Mr. Bevilacqua down began at the end of 1984... stating that reporters and state police officers had observed Mr. Bevilacqua repeatedly visiting the homes of underworld figures.

The state police alleged that Mr. Bevilacqua had also visited a Smithfield motel, owned by men linked to gambling and drugs...

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Thomas Fay

Thomas Fay, the successor to Bevilacqua as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, resigned in 1993, and was later found guilty on three misdemeanor counts of directing arbitration work to a partner in his real estate firm, Lincoln Center Properties.  

Fay was also alleged to use court employees, offices, and other resources for the purposes of the real estate firm.  Fay, along with court administrator and former Speaker of the House, Matthew "Mattie" Smith were alleged to have used court secretaries to conduct business for Lincoln, for which Fay and Smith were business partners. 

Fay was fined $3,000 and placed on one year probation. He could have been sentenced for up to three years in prison. 

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Brian J. Sarault

Former Pawtucket Mayor Brian J. Sarault was sentenced in 1992 to more than 5 years in prison, after pleading guilty to a charge of racketeering.  

Sarault was arrested by state police and FBI agents at Pawtucket City Hall in 1991, who alleged that the mayor had attempted to extort $3,000 from former RI State Rep. Robert Weygand as a kickback from awarding city contracts.

Weygand, after alerting federal authorities to the extortion attempt, wore a concealed recording device to a meeting where he delivered $1,750 to Sarault.

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Edward DiPrete

Edward DiPrete became the first Rhode Island Governor to be serve time in prison after pleading guilty in 1998 to multiple charges of corruption.

He admitted to accepting bribes and extorting money from contractors, and accepted a plea bargain which included a one-year prison sentence.

DiPrete served as Governor from 1985-1991, losing his 1990 re-election campaign to Bruce Sundlun.

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Plunder Dome

Cianci was forced to resign from the Mayor’s office a second time in 2002 after being convicted on one several charges levied against him in the scandal popularly known as “Operation Plunder Dome.” 

The one guilty charge—racketeering conspiracy--led to a five-year sentence in federal prison. Cianci was acquitted on all other charges, which included bribery, extortion, and mail fraud.

While it was alleged that City Hall had been soliciting bribes since Cianci’s 1991 return to office, much of the case revolved around a video showing a Cianci aide, Frank Corrente, accepting a $1,000 bribe from businessman Antonio Freitas. Freitas had also recorded more than 100 conversations with city officials.

Operation Plunder Dome began in 1998, and became public when the FBI executed a search warrant of City Hall in April 1999. 

Cianci Aide Frank Corrente, Tax Board Chairman Joseph Pannone, Tax Board Vice Chairman David C. Ead, Deputy tax assessor Rosemary Glancy were among the nine individuals convicted in the scandal. 

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N. Providence Councilmen

Three North Providence City Councilmen were convicted in 2011 on charges relating to a scheme to extort bribes in exchange for favorable council votes. In all, the councilmen sought more than $100,000 in bribes.

Councilmen Raimond A. Zambarano, Joseph Burchfield, and Raymond L. Douglas III were sentenced to prison terms of 71 months, 64 months, and 78 months, respectively. 

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Charles Moreau

Central Falls Mayor Charles Moreau resigned in 2012 before pleading guilty to federal corruption charges. 

Moreau admitted that he had give contractor Michael Bouthillette a no-bid contract to board up vacant homes in exchange for having a boiler installed in his home. 

He was freed from prison in February 2014, less than one year into a 24 month prison term, after his original sentence was vacated in exchange for a guilty plea on a bribery charge.  He was credited with tim served, placed on three years probation, and given 300 hours of community service.

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Joe Almeida

State Representative Joseph S. Almeida was arrested and charged on February 10, 2015 for allegedly misappropriating $6,122.03 in campaign contributions for his personal use. Following his arrest, he resigned his position as House Democratic Whip, but remains a member of the Rhode Island General Assembly.

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Gordon Fox

The Rhode Island State Police and FBI raided and sealed off the State House office of Speaker of the House Gordon Fox on March 21--marking the first time an office in the building has ever been raided. 

Fox pled guilty to 3 criminal counts on March 3, 2015 - accepting a bribe, wire fraud, and filing a false tax return. The plea deal reached with the US Attorney's office calls for 3 years in federal prison, but Fox will be officially sentenced on June 11.

 
 

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